Choosing KDP Keywords

Choosing KDP Keywords for Publishing on Amazon

The process of publishing on Amazon requires more than uploading and clicking “publish.” Choosing appropriate and specific KDP keywords ensures that the right readers find your book. Although the process is often overlooked, taking a few minutes to conduct KDP keyword research can make a big difference in your book’s visibility and sales.

When you self-publish through Amazon, you’ll be asked to provide nine “keywords.” The words you add here determine who finds your book. That’s why you want your KDP keywords to be relevant and specific.

If you choose keywords that don’t fit your book well, the wrong readers will find your book. And if your KDP keywords are too general, you won’t rank in Amazon’s search results.

In this post and the video below, we’ll walk through a simple method for identifying and selecting KDP keywords that will give your self-published book the best chance at success.

Step 1: Brainstorm KDP keyword ideas.​

To get started, make a list of words related to your book. If you were looking for a book like yours, what would you type into the search bar? Following KDP’s own recommendations, here are a few aspects to consider:

  • Setting​
  • Character types
  • Character roles
  • Plot themes
  • Story tone

​Don’t overthink this step. The only goal here is to end up with a list of words relevant to your book. Let’s try an example.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  • Historical fiction
  • Movie star
  • Strong female lead
  • Romance
  • New York
  • Hollywood

Step 2: Test potential KDP keywords.

Once you have your list, head over to Beside the search bar, select the category “Books.” Then type a keyword into the search bar—but don’t hit enter. Look through the dropdown of recommendations. These are keywords that people are searching for on Amazon.

For example, when you type in “LGBTQ,” one of the options is “LGBTQ historical romance.” That is a specific keyword that accurately represents our book. Write that down.

When you type in “strong female,” you get a few options: “strong female lead,” “strong female protagonist,” and “strong female characters.” Those are all potential keywords.

Amazon results for KDP keywords for strong female protagonist

Step 3: Select specific, accurate KDP keywords.

After making a list of potential keywords based on the dropdown suggestions, you’ll need to select the seven best keywords. Remember, you’re pulling from your second list—the specific, Amazon-recommended keywords.

Choose keywords that are accurate. If someone searches for them, they should be happy to find your book among the results. Also select specific keywords. For example, searching for “LGBTQ” in books brings up more than 60,000 results. But “LGBTQ historical romance” leads to about 6,000.

Using specific keywords gives you a better chance of ranking in the first few pages of results. And it ensures that the reader will be searching for a book like yours.

​For even deeper insights into your keywords, plug them into Google Trends. This tool provides information on keyword popularity over time. Remember that this tools considers general internet searches, not just searches for books.

​Focus On KDP Keywords for Your Ideal Reader​

When you’re selecting keywords, put yourself in the shoes of your ideal reader. Who are you trying to reach with your book? What are they searching for, and what aspects of your story will they focus on?

The goal when selecting keywords is to help the right readers find your book, so don’t try to impress everyone. Going too broad with keywords will only make your book more challenging to find.

Remember that keywords represent the actual words readers are typing into Amazon’s search bar. As an example, if you have a historical fiction novel set during World War I, searching “World War 1” primarily yields nonfiction book results.

Amazon results for KDP keywords for historical fiction
Amazon books search results for “World War 1”

Whereas searching “World War 1 historical fiction” brings up novels with WWI settings Ask yourself what you would type into the search bar if you were looking for a book like yours.

Amazon results for KDP keywords for historical fiction
Amazon books search results for “World War 1 historical fiction”

This is also where understanding your book’s market positioning comes into play. Where does it fit on the shelf? What books is it comparable to? When you self-publish, you’re making the transition from writer to business owner. Choosing effective KDP keywords is one of the many marketing decisions you’ll need to make.

Benefits of Simple KDP Keyword Research

Taking even five minutes to research the actual KDP keywords readers are searching can have massive impacts on the accessibility of your book. Not only will more readers find your book on Amazon, but the right readers will find your book.

If you need help with the uploading process, check out the assisted self-publishing option in Blue Pen’s services. We help authors upload during live sessions—so the author knows it’s done right and they learn how to complete the process for their next book.

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